There is tension in Ode Omi, a boundary community between Lagos and Ogun states, after some gunmen invaded the area and abducted the son of the Chief Imam, Abdul-azeez Sanni.
Two brothers, Jelili and Bamidele Adams, were also reportedly whisked away by the assailants, who stole a speedboat belonging to the marine police.
PUNCH Metro learnt that three residents were also shot by the hoodlums, who immediately escaped into the creek from where they came.
Our correspondent gathered that the Ijebu East Police Area Commander, some military personnel and government officials had visited the area.
A resident, Ahmed Owoseni, said Abdul-azeez, who is in his late 30s, recently returned to the country after completing his studies in Saudi Arabia.
He noted that the gunmen struck around 2am on Sunday.
Owoseni stated, “There is a creek opposite our community. That was where the kidnappers came from. They came in their numbers and went straight to the house of the chief imam. They abducted his son, Abdul-azeez, who just returned from Saudi Arabia.
“They then went to another building and kidnapped two brothers, Jelili and Bamidele Adams. Jelili, a tailor, was sewing clothes for his customers for the Eid-el-Kabir when the hoodlums entered the house.
“While they were going, the hoodlums opened fire on some people, who tried to stop them. Three people were seriously injured.”
He explained that because there was no medical centre in Ode Omi, the injured residents were ferried to a hospital in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State.
Owoseni said the victims were referred to a general hospital in Akodo, Lagos, where they are currently being treated.
A community leader, Ademola Azeez, said the kidnappers had earlier been dislodged from the area by security agencies.
He stated, “About three weeks ago, we learnt that they returned to the creek in a canoe. Last week Tuesday, they came in the night and stole two marine police speedboats.
“In their second operation on Sunday, they entered the house of the chief imam and shot two of his sons before abducting Abdul-azeez.
“Many people, who wanted to visit the community for the Eid-el-Kabir festivity, had to stay back. Many of us are scared.
“Later, some soldiers came to confirm the incident and the police area commander also visited for an on-the-spot assessment. There has not been peace ever since.”
According to Azeez, although the community is in Ogun State, the creek from where the gunmen are operating is in Lagos State.
He said there was the need for both state governments to collaborate to fight the bandits.
“Nobody is safe any longer. When they were leaving on Sunday, they took away another speedboat. They now have enough equipment to move around and cause havoc,” he added.
Our correspondent was told that an Ijaw man found loitering in the community around the time of the attack was handed over to military officers for questioning.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the kidnappers later contacted the families of the victims and demanded N30m for their release.
A resident, Olalekan Osoba, said the community could not raise the money and appealed to the government for help.
He said, “We have been asking for a gunboat. When the Lagos State Government acquired a gunboat for a neighbouring community, which used to be the target of these people, the hoodlums stopped terrorising it.
“We are the ones they are now facing, because there is no security here. We have written several letters for help all to no avail. We need help.”
While our correspondent was speaking with the residents, gunshots were heard and people ran for their dear lives.
It was later learnt that some security operatives had mobilised to engage the hoodlums.
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident, adding that the state Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, had ordered that the victims be rescued.
“They were abducted and taken into the creek. But very soon, we will rescue them,” he said.